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Flashcards in Solution Focused therapy Deck (18)
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1

Basic assumptions

There are significant advantages in focusing on the positive and on solutions for the
future. Focusing on strengths and solution-talk will increase the likelihood that therapy
will be brief.
ƒ Individuals who come to therapy do have the capacity to act effectively. This capacity,
however is temporarily blocked by negative cognitions.
ƒ There are exceptions to every problem.
ƒ Clients tend to present one side of the problem. Solution focused therapists invite clients
to view their problems from a different side.
ƒ Small change fosters bigger change.
ƒ Clients want to change, they have the capacity to change and they are doing their best to
make change happen.
ƒ As each individual is unique, so too is every solution.

2

A miracle question is ....

a technique that counsellors can use to assist clients to think ‘outside
the square’ in regard to new possibilities and outcomes for the future.

3

Importance of miracle question

the miracle question requests clients to make a leap of faith and imagine how
their life will be changed when the problem is solved. This is not easy for clients. It requires
them to make a dramatic shift from problem saturated thinking to a focus on solutions. Most
clients need time and assistance to make that shift. (De Jong & Kim Berg, 2002)

4

example of miracle questioning

The question is
best asked deliberately and dramatically.
Now, I want to ask you a strange question. Suppose that while you are sleeping
tonight and the entire house is quiet, a miracle happens. The miracle is that the
problem which brought you here is solved. However because you are sleeping, you
don’t know that the miracle has happened. So, when you wake up tomorrow
morning, what will be different that will tell you that a miracle has happened and
the problem which brought you here is solved? (de Shazer, 1988, p. 5.)

5

What are and why use exception questions...

Having created a detailed miracle picture, the counsellor has started to gain some
understanding of what the client hopes to achieve and the counsellor and client can begin to
work towards these solutions. This is achieved through highlighting exceptions in a client’s
life that are counter to the problem. This helps empower clients to seek solutions.
Exception questions provide clients with the opportunity to identify times when things have
been different for them.

6

Examples of Expection questions

ƒ Tell me about times when you don’t get angry.
ƒ Tell me about times you felt the happiest.
ƒ When was the last time that you feel you had a better day?
ƒ Was there ever a time when you felt happy in your relationship?
ƒ What was it about that day that made it a better day?
ƒ Can you think of a time when the problem was not present in your life?

7

when exploring exceptions

s, be aware that such questions can be phrased to ask for the
client’s perception of exceptions (individual questions) and the client’s perception of what
significant others may notice (relationship questions).

8

Exceptions relate to the miracle
Elicit:

Elicit
So when the miracle happens, you and your husband will be talking more about what
your day was like and hugging more. Are there times already which are like the
miracle – even a little bit?
If your husband was here and I were to ask him the same question, what do you think
he would say?

9

Exceptions relate to the miracle
Amplify

Amplify
When was the last time you and your husband talked more and hugged more? Tell me
more about that time. What was it like? What did you talk about? What did you say?
When he said that, what did you do? What did he do then? How was that for you? Was
else was different about that time?
If he were here, what else might he say about that time?

10

Exceptions relate to the miracle
Reinforce

Reinforce
Nonverbally: Lean forward raise eyebrows, take notes. Do what you naturally do when
someone tells you something important.
Verbally: Show interest. (Was this new for you and him? Did it surprise you that this
happened?) And compliment. (Seems like that might have been difficult for you to do,
given everything that’s happened in the relationship. Was it difficult?)

11

Exceptions relate to the miracle
Explore how the exception happened

Explore how the exception happened
What do you suppose you did to make that happen?
If your husband were here and I asked him, what do you suppose he would say you
did that helped him to tell you more about his day?
Use compliments: Where did you get the idea to do it that way? That seems to make a
lot of sense. Have you always been able to come up with ideas about what to do in
difficult situations like this?

12

Exceptions relate to the miracle
Project expectations into the future

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 means every chance, what are the chances that a time
like that (the exception) will happen again in the next week (month, sometime in the
future)? What will take for that to happen?)
What will it take for that to happen more often in the future?
Who has to do what to make it happen again?
What is the most important thing for you to remember to do to make sure that
_________________(the exception) has the best chance of happening again? What’s the
next most important thing to remember?
What do you think your husband would say the chances are that this (the exception)
will happen again? What would he say you could do to increase the chances of that
happening again? Suppose you decide to do that, what do you think he would do?
Suppose he did that, how would things be different for you…around your house…in
your relationship with him?” (De Jong & Kim Berg, 2002, pp. 302-303)

13

What are scaling questions

Scaling questions invite clients to perceive their problem on a continuum. Scaling questions
ask clients to consider their position on a scale (usually from 1 to 10, with one being the least
desirable situation and 10 being the most desirable). Scaling questions can be a helpful way to
track coachees’ progress toward goals and monitor incremental change.

14

How to ask scaling questions

To use these types of questions, the therapist begins by describing a scale from one to ten
where each number represents a rating of the client’s complaint(s). The therapist might say,
“On a scale of one to ten, with one being the worst this problem has ever been, and ten being
the best things could be, where would you rate things today?”
Once a therapist is given a number, he or she explores how that rating translates into actiontalk. For example, if the client rates his or her situation at a three, the therapist asks, “What
specifically is happening to indicate to you that it is a three?” The next step is to determine the
goals and preferred outcomes. To do this the therapist asks the client where things would
need to be for him or her to feel that the goals of treatment have been met or that therapy has
been successful….
We aim for small changes that will represent progress in the direction of goals and preferred
outcomes.”*
* Bertolino & O’Hanlon, 2002, pg. 4.

15

Examples of scaling questions

You said that things are between a 5 and a 6. What would need to
happen so that you could say things were between a 6 and a 7?
ƒ How confident are you that you could have a good day like you did last
week, on a scale of zero to ten, where zero equals no confidence and
ten means you have every confidence?

16

Why presupposing change

When clients are focused on changing the negative aspects (or problems) in their lives,
positive changes can often be overlooked, minimized or discounted due to the ongoing
presence of the problem.

17

The solution focused approach challenges counsellors to be attentive to positive changes
(however small) that occur in their clients’ lives. Questions that presuppose change can be
useful in assisting clients to recognise such changes.

Questions such as:
ƒ “How come things aren’t worse for you?
ƒ What stopped total disaster from occurring?
ƒ How did you avoid falling apart?
These questions can be followed up by the counsellor positively affirming the client with
regard to any action they took to cope.

18

The solution focused approach provides counsellors with a framework for

exploring and
utilising clients’ existing resources; their strengths, support networks, ideas and theories of
how change occurs. Solution focused counselling seeks to redirect client thinking from being
problem-focused to solution-focused. This can be a difficult task, particularly when the client
has lived with a particular concern for many years. Techniques such as the miracle question
and exception questions can serve as useful tools for inspiring new ways of thinking and
generating ideas for solution building and the establishment of a preferred future.